custom millwork fireplace

Set Your Interior Style with Moulding Profiles

Do your interior spaces seem flat and characterless? If so, interior trim — aka interior moulding or millwork — can inject some much-needed personality and depth. Trim helps outline and frame key visual and functional elements within a room, making them pop and stand out. 

When shopping for interior trim, you’ll often be presented with various moulding profiles to choose from. This refers to the cuts, contouring, and detailing imparted into the trim to give it a unique look and feel. Moulding profiles range from subtle and understated to some truly eye-catching and ornate designs, calling attention to themselves of their own accord.

Before we get into a few common moulding profiles, let’s brush up on interior millwork and its component parts. 

What is interior millwork?

When we talk about interior millwork, we’re talking about items traditionally fashioned by carpenters in a sawmill. Before the introduction of synthetic materials in the mid-20th century, millwork was exclusively constructed from pure, unadulterated lumber. However, in recent decades the term has become inclusive of materials like MDF (medium-density fiberboard), composites, particle board, and fiberglass. For the purist, though, millwork is still wooden. 

Home remodelers can either opt for mass-produced stock millwork to cut costs or customized architectural millwork to really nail down a particular look, depending on their goals. Custom milling is often employed in older homes and historical restoration projects. 

Types of interior mouldings

The types of interior mouldings are classified by their positioning within a room — what they accent, border, or adjoin. Let’s start from the floor and make our way up.

Shoe moulding, baseboards, and base caps

As their name indicates, baseboards are wide, flat boards that run along the base of the wall. The shoe moulding is a rounded piece of wood that forms a “shoe” at the foot of the baseboard, covering up the joint between the floor and the baseboard. For a bit of added flair, a base cap can be fitted along the top edge of the baseboard. 

Wainscoting and chair rails

Wainscoting is decorative wooden paneling covering some portion of a wall — usually just the lower half, although it can stretch higher in some instances. A chair rail is a narrow piece of horizontal trim traditionally used to protect walls from the ravages of chair backs. Chair rails can be used on their own or as a topper for wainscoting, visually separating the upper and lower wall. 

Door and window framing elements

Door and window framing is most often thought of as functional (securing the door or window into place, sealing off gaps), but with the right moulding profile, it can be quite artful as well.

  • Jambs — Flat boards that either run along the sides of doors and windows vertically (side jambs) or along the tops horizontally (head jambs), creating a finished look.
  • Casings — Narrower trim pieces that cover the gaps between the rough opening in the wall and the installed window or door.
  • Stool and apron — The stool is the shelflike board perched atop a windowsill, the apron is horizontal trim that sits below it. 
  • Grilles — Gridlike framing element that creates the effect of smaller, individualized window panes. When it’s not just for show and the glazing is actually divided, they’re called muntins
  • Plinth blocks — Thick footer blocks flanking a doorway on either side. They slide in between the baseboard and side casing.

Railings and banisters

Not just for holding onto while going up or down the stairs, railings and banisters can also become the focal point of your foyer. 


Frame the fireplace in style, with a shelf for decorations and keepsakes.

Crown mouldings 

Crown moulding is a wide trim element installed along the upper perimeter of the room, tapering in from the ceiling to the wall. It can be combined with other accents to create truly elegant effects.


Millwork can also give new dimensions to ceilings. A tray ceiling creates the effect of an inverted tray, with trim pieces forming a lip around the recessed center portion. Coffered ceilings offer even more elaborate effects by using trim to divide the ceiling up into recessed geometric patterns.

sewell nj interior trim and molding

Popular moulding profiles

Here are a couple of popular lines of moulding profiles from our friends at Kuiken Brothers in New Jersey.


Taking cues from American homes of the 18th and 19th century, these moulding profiles draw from the Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, and Traditional Revival architectural styles of early American history, teeming with fine details and embellishments.

Modern Craftsman

Craftsman-style homes were enormously popular in the early 20th century, emphasizing cleaner, straighter lines with fewer curves and outcroppings. Moulding profiles of this nature would suit someone looking to add more subdued dignity to their home.

Complete home renovations from Ayars

If you live in South Jersey and are looking to distinguish your interior spaces, the Ayars team has the craftsmen on staff to do it, and the materials suppliers to support it. Reach out to us to learn how we can take your interior from ordinary to extraordinary with complete home renovations

front porch and siding remodel

How to Increase Home Value in 2021

People often fantasize about finding their “forever home,” but what they should be daydreaming about is ways to increase home value — particularly those with a high return on investment (ROI). A National Association of Realtors study showed that the median time span between a home purchase and a home sale was around 9 years — far short of “forever.” 

How you approach a remodel or renovation depends on your long-term goals — do you plan on sticking around a while (5 years or more), or is your current residence just a stop along the way? It doesn’t make sense to delve into a highly involved, low-ROI project if you won’t be around to enjoy the fruits of that labor (and recoup those costs yourself). Conversely, a simpler, high ROI project will yield greater dividends over a shorter period of time — consistent with a seller’s mentality.

The Cost vs. Value Report for Home Remodeling Projects

So what are the best ways to increase home value then? The answer can vary from year to year and region to region, which can make it hard to know where to start. Thankfully, the Cost vs. Value report published annually by Remodeling magazine helps keep things straight. The report compares the average cost of 22 popular remodeling projects with the value they retain at resale across 101 U.S. markets — in our case the Middle Atlantic and more specifically Philadelphia (right across the Delaware River). 

Compared to 2019, the costs of nearly all project types went up while the perceived value dipped. It’s important to note, however, that there are many factors that figure into the numbers — such as the condition of the rest of the house wherein the project is taking place, the economic health of the surrounding region and home values within the neighborhood, and the fact that many projects come with some sort of tradeoff. A solution you’re creating for yourself may actually be problematic for a prospective buyer. 

For instance, say you absorb the walk-in closet or spare bedroom beside your master bedroom to create a luxury master bath. Yes, certain buyers may appreciate the beauty and indulgence of that reimagined space, but the loss of an additional bedroom may be a dealbreaker for buyers with growing families. This is why we see such variances from region to region (e.g. a population heavy with single young professionals vs. families) 

Three popular remodeling projects (and their ROIs)

In South Jersey and across America, kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects were among the most coveted in 2020. Home Advisor’s annual State of Home Spending Report polled 5,000 Americans about their home improvement spending habits, and kitchens (22.6% of respondents) and bathrooms (30.9%) both ranked within the top 5 most popular. On average, people spent $745 more than the previous year on home improvement — a byproduct of higher prices and a lot more time spent at home due to the pandemic. All that stress had some Ayars customers wanting to retreat into a beautifully appointed new master suite.

Kitchen remodeling projects

kitchen remodel south jersey

Midrange minor kitchen remodel

The midrange minor kitchen remodel mentioned in the Cost vs. Value Report assumes a “functional but dated 200-square-foot kitchen,” the project calls for replacing cabinet fronts with shaker-style wood panels and drawer fronts with new hardware, as well as upgrading the range and refrigerator with new energy-efficient models. Laminate countertops, sink, faucet, and flooring all receive mid-priced replacements. The walls, trim, and ceilings get a new coat of paint.

Major kitchen remodels

A midrange major kitchen remodel takes all that but ups the ante with a more functional layout, including 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets and a 3×5 foot island. An upscale major kitchen remodel spares no expense: fully customized cabinets, stone countertops, imported tile backsplash, commercial-grade cooktop and wall oven, designer faucets and filtration system, upgraded general and task lighting. 

Return on investment

The midrange minor kitchen remodel had the highest ROI, with 73.2% of costs recouped at resale. The midrange major kitchen remodel still saw South Jersey homeowners recover over half (54.0%) of their investment, while the upscale remodel yielded the lowest return of the three.

Bathroom projects

mullica hill master bath herringbone floor and vanity

Bathroom remodels

The Cost vs. Value Report bases its midrange bath remodel (5×7 bathroom) on updates to all fixtures with quality but affordable materials (porcelain-on-steel tub, ceramic tile surround, solid surface vanity top), with features you’d expect in a modern bathroom (single-lever temperature and pressure control in the shower). Its upscale bath remodel template greatly builds on that, not only in size (100 sq. ft. vs. 35 sq. ft.) but in luxuries (recessed shower caddy, body sprayers, freestanding soaker tub, electric in-floor heating, etc.). 

Additional bathrooms

The Cost vs. Value Report’s baseline bathroom addition projects call for very similar features and functionality as the remodeling projects mentioned above, but with the added preliminary steps of framing walls and extending HVAC, wiring, and plumbing. 

Return on investment

Generally speaking, bathroom projects had some of the lower ROIs listed in this year’s Cost vs. Value report, with remodels (45.1% to 54.9%) faring better than additions (41.9% to 43.1%) — running new plumbing and wiring is not a cheap date. That said, an extra half bath adds about 10% to a home’s value, while converting a half bath to a full bath adds about 9%. By extension, a brand new full bath would increase home value by 19% (National Association of Home Builders).

Master suite additions

clarksboro nj master bathroom renovation


The midrange master suite addition involves 24’x16’ of new space, with a carpeted master bathroom with a walk-in closet and dressing area, and a master bathroom with a double-bowl vanity (his and hers), freestanding soaker tub, and 3’x4’ ceramic tile shower


The upscale master bedroom suite addition is an even classier affair, with 32’x20’ of additional space with a lounge area, custom millwork, a high-end gas fireplace with a stone hearth, fully functional wet bar, custom lighting controls, master bathroom with a dual shower, freestanding tub, and separate custom vanities, and a whole lot more. 

Return on investment

A new master suite is worth the investment if you’re looking to spoil/pamper yourself for years to come, but maybe not so much if you’re on your way out. The midrange project had an ROI of 44.1%, while the upscale project had an ROI of 37.3%.

High ROI vs. Low ROI remodeling projects

The top 5 ROI remodeling projects in South Jersey (i.e. Philadelphia area) favored exterior home improvements: manufactured stone veneers (94.1%), garage door replacement (70.0%), wooden deck addition (66.6%), and vinyl siding replacement (64.0%); midrange minor kitchen remodel (73.2%) ranked second. 

Across the board, more “luxury” and “upscale” remodeling and renovations projects tended to not increase home value as much as one might hope. So is it worth it to add an upscale bathroom, totally reimagine a kitchen with state-of-the-art features and materials, or build on a gorgeous new master suite? 

Again, it depends on your long-term plans and your willingness to spend. If you’re ready to settle down and have the budget, there’s no question that significantly upgrading and beautifying your home will seriously enhance your enjoyment of the space, and in turn, your quality of life. If you’re planning on selling soon, think more surface level. But if you’re planning on staying for the long haul, think deeper about what you want and what would make you happy. 

modern kitchen open concept view from living room mullica hill nj

Getting Started on Home Interior Renovations: Form Follows Function

Residential interior design is so much more than wall paintings, vases, and area rugs (i.e. interior decorating) — it’s a philosophy. Specifically, it seeks to question how our indoor living spaces work for us, how they make us feel

Consider your day-to-day life and the rooms where you spend most of your time — are they laid out in a fashion that frustrates, or in a way that facilitates? That should always be the starting point when contemplating home interior renovations. The finer details of colors, styles, and textures are the icing on the cake!

Floor plan designs

One of the core tenets of residential interior design is the floor plan. Do your home’s rooms flow together in a way that makes sense? Are its shared spaces accessible from more than one direction? Are rooms with similar functions adjacent to one another (kitchen and dining room, for instance)? How easy is it to get to the nearest bathroom? 

While it’s important to ask yourself these things prior to buying a house, deficiencies aren’t always apparent from the outset. But before you change your floor plan, think about how you might make better use of the existing layout. For example, you might shuffle the kids’ bedrooms around or finally get around to finishing that basement

Knocking down and/or reconfiguring walls can get complicated quickly, and might become more than you bargained for if structural engineers, plumbers, or electricians need to get involved. If your home’s layout just isn’t working for your or your family’s lifestyle at all, you may be better off looking for a new house altogether.  

modern master bathroom clarkboro nj full detail

Functional living spaces

In residential interior design, form always follows function. Having a beautiful space is secondary to having a usable space, although it’s certainly desirable to have both! 

Open and inviting kitchens

Consider the example of a kitchen. Of course, a kitchen’s most important function is the preparation and cooking of food. If there are obstructions between the sink and fridge and oven (the work triangle), that’s a problem. If there is inadequate counter space to prepare food, that’s another problem. If it’s a struggle to store or locate food, utensils, appliances, or cookware, you’re going to be tempted to order out more frequently than dine in. 

But for most people, kitchens serve another essential purpose — gathering, socializing, and entertaining. That is why open concept kitchens are among homebuyers’ most coveted items. Without walls between the kitchen and dining area (and possibly living room), communication is free and easy. People are pleased to be in one another’s presence as opposed to in one another’s way. 

modern kitchen with island mullica hill nj

Rounding home interiors into form

Once you’ve arrived at a floor plan design you’re pleased with, then you can turn your attention to surrounding yourself with the features, fixtures, and decor that reinforce or support a room’s intended function. For instance, you might choose kitchen lighting that helps illuminate workstations and a color palette that is warm and inviting.

Secluded and peaceful home offices

Now consider something like a home office — focus and privacy now become paramount. You’ll want it located in an area of the house that is more isolated or removed from the action. You might tab a socially distanced corner of your upper story (with a nice view of the backyard or nature) or the basement so you can focus on work and not get distracted by play. You might invest in soundproofing to muffle foot traffic and commotion overhead (basement) or a skylight to add more natural light (upper story). 

home office south jersey

Find the heart and soul of your home’s interior

Residential interior design has too much impact on daily mood and quality of life to ignore. Whether you’re shopping for your dream home or mulling over home interior renovations, it’s important to honestly assess how each part functions — both independently and in relation to others. Find a floor plan that fits your lifestyle, then maximize its potential. 

Don’t know where to start? Ayars Complete Home Improvements has been helping South Jersey homeowners through this process for decades. 

custom millwork fireplace

4 Good Reasons to Save Interior Home Remodeling Projects for the Winter

Preparing for hibernation this winter? A little R&R is fine — and probably well-deserved — but if you sleep through the whole thing, you might miss the best time for interior home remodeling projects. Whether you’re in the market for minor touch-ups or a more major undertaking, winter can actually be quite kind to the opportunistic homeowner. Here’s why.

You have more downtime

During the spring, the outdoors demand our attention as we prepare for a busy summer. When the warm weather finally arrives, it can be a struggle to go everywhere, see everyone, and do everything we want to. Autumn is a scramble with back-to-school shopping quickly giving way to a string of holidays. When things finally settle down for the winter, the quiet can seem downright eerie. Interior home improvement can be the perfect way to fill the void. Consider what’s working for your space and what isn’t, and use that as a springboard to plan your remodeling projects.

Remodeling contractors have less volume

Quality remodeling contractors are busy year-round — repeated successes build trust, and a good reputation breeds more opportunities. However, warm weather means longer work days and more projects. That means if you wait until the spring or summer to schedule your kitchen or bathroom remodel, it make take longer for your contractor to get around to your project. Therefore, winter is the ideal time for interior renovations — your contractor will appreciate being kept out of the elements, and you’ll appreciate additional insight during the process, including the scoop on available and forthcoming specialty products that can elevate your project to the next level. 

kitchen remodel hardwood floor

Home improvement material prices increase in spring

The leaves may have fallen, but the laws of supply and demand are evergreen. Manufacturers leverage the fact that more home renovation projects occur in the spring and summer and adjust prices accordingly. On average, material costs increase 2.5 to 5 percent at the start of the spring season. Beat the rush by slating your home improvement project for the winter and reap the savings. 

Winter remodeling is a good excuse to travel

Interior remodels can be disruptive. Although most professional contractors will try to minimize their footprint as much as they can, there’s just no getting around it. Fortunately, however, the colder months often coincide with vacations and holiday getaways. South Jersey winters can be harsh at times, which is the perfect excuse for an escape. Meanwhile, your contractor will enjoy unimpeded access to an otherwise crowded workspace. This can alleviate much of the stress that a bathroom or kitchen remodel can impose on some families. When you return, much of — if not all— the work may very well be done. And you’ll be much happier and may even have a sun tan. 

Best interior home remodeling projects for the winter

  • Walls: Cooler, drier air conditions are ideal for painting. Interior crown molding and wainscoting add a refined touch to any room, especially dining rooms, living rooms, and master bedrooms. Tiled backsplashes can add a pop of color to a bathroom or kitchen while protecting walls from moisture and water damage. 
  • Floors: New carpeting, tiling, or hardwood flooring can help refresh the look and character of any room. Exposed hardwood floors have especially gained popularity with modern homeowners for their timeless appearance and ease of cleanup. 
  • Basements: A finished basement or home entertainment center is not only a great place to huddle together during the winter, but it’s also a great place to escape the heat in the summer. It’s also a terrific boost for home resale value. 
  • Kitchens and bathrooms: Build the kitchen or bathroom you’ve always dreamt about with stylish lighting, fixtures, and decor.
  • Custom Millwork: Installing new cabinets or shelving systems can both reduce clutter and uplift a room’s aesthetic.

Whatever your winter upgrade plans are, Ayars Complete Home Improvements has the staffing and experience to help you make the most of the season. Contact us for a free estimate today.

Front Door Installation South Jersey

Do You Repair Or Replace Your Old Doors?

Do you repair or replace your old doors?

If you are living in an older home, you may begin to notice the high traffic parts of your home, and noticing the entry doors are beginning to show wear and tear.  Over the years, doors can become troublesome to open and close and become increasingly drafty.  So, many homeowners are faced with the question of whether to repair or to replace the entry doors.  Although it may seem like an easier solution to repair since it’s already there, you may be surprised to know that replacement doors could end up saving you a lot of time and money down the road.

Energy efficiency is perhaps one of the best ways to save money with a door replacement.  By replacing old, drafty doors with new doors that fit properly and contain energy efficient materials, you will be able to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; all while using less electricity.  

Not only will you be saving money and the environment through energy efficiency, but you will also be increasing the value of your home by replacing the entry doors.  Did you know that you can actually increase the perceived value of your home by tens of thousands of dollars from adding a new entry door system?

Knock, Knock: 5 Signs That You Need a New Door

People generally spend time thinking about doors, and as a result, they’re often taken for granted.  But, doors have a lifespan, and it’s important to look for signs of wear.  Otherwise, that old door may let  more in that it keeps out.  If you notice any of the following problems, it’s time to start looking for new doors for you home.

  1. Drafts are a big sign that a door needs to be replaced. When the seals around a door age, they can shrink and/or crack.  If you’re wondering why your house gets so cold at night, check around all your doors for drafts.
  2. Squeaky hinges aren’t just annoying – they’re a cry for help. Maintenance and oiling can only go so far.  Hinges that are wearing down indicate that the door itself may not be that far behind and loose hinges mean that your door can be easily forced open.
  3. If you see visible cracks in your door, you should wait another day to start looking for a replacement. Not only do cracks let in bugs and drafts, but they mean that the old door is structurally weak, which poses a safety concern for you and your family.
  4. A door that scrapes along the floor or ground when you open or close it should be examined. Old doors can warp or sag, causing damage to your floor every time you use the door.  Patio doors that scrape in their tracks should also be checked.
  5. If you’re finding an excess amount of ants or other pests inside, they might be waltzing in right through your front door! A door that doesn’t close properly anymore can let in insects, which are not only annoying but can also cause damage or bring germs into your home.


Whether it’s your front door, back door or patio door, wear can be detrimental.  While drafts and cracks can raise the power bill, structural damage or warping can compromise the safety of your home.  If you need to replace an old lock or you need an entirely new door, we can help.  We specialize in doors, windows, and roofing in the South Jersey area.  We can assist you in finding a new door that’s secure and compliments the style of your home.

Increase Your Home Value with 8 Home Remodeling Ideas

Increase Your Home Value with 8 Home Remodeling Ideas

Did any of your home upgrades pay off when it came time to sell?  There are many things you can change and remodel in your home, but these 7 key home improvements are guaranteed to increase the value of your home.

  1. Remodeling the Kitchen

The kitchen is usually the first room in the house that needs updating.  After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home.  I’m not sure about you guys, but the hang out spot at my house is usually the kitchen.  Remodeling continues to have the highest budget allocation.


For many families (mine included), this room is where everyone gathers around or entertains their guests.  Holidays, birthdays, a little family get together; this room is definitely utilized the most in a home.  For this reason, you can expect to recoup 60%-120% of investments from remodeling a kitchen, as long as you stay within your budget.


  1. Adding a Bathroom

You can never go wrong with having more than one restroom in your home. This is why you can recoup 80%-130% of investments from adding another bathroom. Most homebuyers will use any room with underutilized space or take an extra room to upgrade it into a master bathroom.


  1. Reinventing a Room

This home improvement can be the most expensive upgrade to a house. Adding more square footage to your home can easily accumulate costs but it can bring you a 50%-83% return on investment.


  1. Adding Energy-Efficient Windows

Energy-efficient home improvements not only recoups 60%-90% of investments cost, but it can also reduce energy taxes as well!  When you replace your windows or doors with energy efficient models, you can receive a tax credit and 10% of costs, up to $200.00 per window.


  1. Adding a Deck

Outdoor living spaces, otherwise known as staycations, can significantly increase the value of your home.  As more homeowners are adding decks and patios to their backyards, it instantly becomes more appealing to prospective buyers when the house is for sale.


  1. Energy-Efficient Insulation

It’s about that time everyone has basic insulation installed, otherwise the cost to live in and maintain an unmodified home can be a burden.  Most potential buyers make sure to include this home improvement into their reports.


*One way to ensure your house is well insulated is with the right masonry.


  1. Basic Updates

Making basic updates to your home is a no-brainer.  Making small improvements such as fixing a leaking roof, replacing rotting wood and keeping paint fresh will always add the most value to your home.  A solid and safe home is always appealing to homebuyers.


So if you plan to remodel or make improvements to your home, remember that even the smallest of projects can make a big difference to the value of your home.  Also, focus on making your home safe and energy-efficient because it guarantees lower energy costs in the future.


  1. Flooring

Take a look at your home’s soft flooring. Are your carpets and area rugs stained or worn? Ideally, you may want to replace them all, but if a limited budget puts a snag in that plan, start by replacing the carpet in the room that shows the most wear and tear and replace the others as your finances allow.  Hardwood flooring is also an upsell.  Visually it’s beautiful, and gives such a natural feel to your home.

mudroom full detail

Remodeling Your Garage Into A Mudroom

Talk to any avid outdoorsman or mom of active kids, and one thing would likely top their domestic wish lists: a mudroom. Unfortunately, most homeowners are reluctant to create a mudroom if it means cutting into other essential spaces, such as kitchens and dens. That’s why a garage mudroom is an ideal solution. Here’s how to make it happen.

Garage mudroom prerequisites

It should be noted that properly creating a garage mudroom requires an attached garage — the whole point is a seamless transition out of the messy elements into your (hopefully) tidy home. If you have a detached garage, you can convert space just inside a side or rear entryway into a mudroom, or plan a modestly sized addition.

Consider your mudroom storage needs

Before planning the space, it’s important to first understand your mudroom storage needs.  Will you merely be tucking away coats and boots, or do you need a place for all of the other detritus of daily life – from laundry and gardening supplies to backpacks and sporting gear?

Likely, you’ll need the latter, which is why a garage mudroom makeover is a savvy choice for many homeowners.  They’re comparatively large in square footage just waiting to be put to use in a meaningful way. Even better?  Keeping recreational items in your garage helps contain clutter outside of your immediate living space.

Mix it up with your mudroom storage solutions

Once you’ve assessed your space and cleaned it out, it’s time to choose your garage mudroom storage solutions. Going with one type of storage mechanism misses the point entirely: different types of goods require different forms of storage.

For example, coats, hats, and backpacks can be inexpensively kept off the floor through the simple addition of wall hooks.  Just make sure to keep them at a height that’s easily accessible for smaller children.  This also helps you maximize vertical space – a smart move on the part of any space-challenged homeowner.

Mounted shelving is another way to use your walls; this is the perfect way to tuck away seasonal gear, such as hats, gloves, and scarves.

Other items, such as umbrellas and soccer cleats, may not be used as frequently and can be tucked away in enclosed storage space, such as heavy-duty cabinets.

Just remember to keep like with like and to label everything.  A truly functional mudroom is well-organized, accessible, and easy to maintain.

Some families also find it useful to designate a storage cabinet for each member of your family.  This way they’ll know where to look before turning to you for help finding their tennis racquet.  After all, you could probably live without ever again hearing the words, “Mom, I can’t find my lacrosse stick/ski boots/fishing pole!”

Think up … and down

We’ve already established the importance of using vertical space, but don’t forget about your floors.  When planning a garage mudroom, it’s important to select flooring that can hold up to everyday wear and tear – particularly since it will be used four seasons out of the year, and subjected to everything from sand and gravel to snow and ice.  Make sure it can be mopped with ease and is relatively scratch-proof (we recommend tile or vinyl plank flooring).

Speaking of down, don’t forget places for people to sit.  If there is no place to stop and remove footwear, your home’s inhabitants will inevitably make their way into your house with their shoes on, defeating the purpose of your mudroom.  A simple bench works fine, although choosing one with storage functionality adds an additional element of usefulness.

Clean up on your garage mudroom idea with Ayars

Do you have the desire to create a garage mudroom but your picture is still a little muddy? Let the team at Ayars help sort it out, and you’ll be on your way to to living a cleaner, more clutter-free life.

How To Begin A Living Room Remodel

How to Begin a Living Room Remodel


Renovating your living room:

It’s exciting, but it can be a bit overwhelming, too. Where should you start? How much can you afford to spend? How do you know whether that contractor with the impressive portfolio will really show up when he’s supposed to? And what if the sofa that looks so gorgeous on the showroom floor makes your own house resemble a bordello? Relax. We’re here to make it simpler for you. Follow our step-by-step guide to renovation, and get ready to kick back in a new living room that suits your needs, your style and your budget.

Research and Plan

One of the keys to a successful renovation is plenty of forethought, knowledge and information — especially if you’re making structural changes, or working with several professionals and a big budget. Take your time to plan before you begin, so that you are less likely to have regrets when you are finished. “Designing a room or a remodeling project is a journey or a process,” says interior designer Jamie Vautour, “and it takes time to develop ideas and do things right. In other words, you need to know your destination and how you plan to get there.”

Consider Your Lifestyle

“To start,” says interior designer Jamie Vautour, “try to envision how you see yourself and your family getting the most use out of the space. Will the space be used for parties? Intimate gatherings? Do you want or need one large seating area or several different seating groups?”

Think long-term. Remember to plan not only for this stage of your life, but for the next phases, as well. If you’re newlyweds planning to have children in a few years, take those future kids into account when planning your renovation, so that you don’t have to redo everything. Ask people who already have kids what works in real life and what doesn’t; what they wish they had in their living rooms; what has caused safety issues or got broken so many times it had to be thrown away.

On the other hand, if you have older parents (or are a senior yourself), be sure to design your space so that it is safe and comfortable for yourself and your guests as the years go by.

Consult the Pros

Once you have a sense of what functions you want your new living room to serve, gather lots of information. There are unlimited resources online alone.  If you need any help figuring out which websites to visit, please feel free to ask your designer.  They would love to help you out with that.


And don’t forget to talk to real people. Ask your friends and neighbors to recommend local professionals, and be sure to inquire as to whether there are any local pros you should steer clear of. Find out what other people are glad they included in their renovations, and what wasn’t worth the money.

Determine Your Living Room Needs

Before you begin your living room remodel, think about what you need to lounge, entertain and work.

Before you can start planning your renovation, you need to know what your ultimate goal for your remodeled space is:

  • Are you renovating your living room mostly to enlarge it?
  • Are you remodeling to update it?
  • Are you renovating to sell your home down the line?
  • How do you plan to enjoy your living room day in and day out, year after year?

“Ultimately,” says interior designer Jamie Vautour, owner of General Assembly, “the best way to identify what is going to work best for your family is to think about how you really live. Are you the type of people who like to spend a lot of time together watching movies around a TV? In that case, make sure it’s comfortable to watch. On the other hand,” she says, “if you spend most of your time reading, you might want to find a way to hide the TV when it’s not in use.”

If you are going to use your living room for entertaining, think about what types of gatherings you usually host. Do you like to invite one or two other couples for a quiet night of wine and cheese in front of the fireplace? Or throw big stand-up fetes where everyone mixes and mingles? For seated events, pick large, cushy upholstery; for stand-up shindigs, keep the chairs and couches smaller-scale to leave as much room as possible for moving around. If you entertain formally, be sure you have storage space for less-fancy items such as your kids’ toys and your stacks of magazines, so that you can stash them when company comes. And if your events tend to be boisterous and messy, you’re going to want couches and carpets that are stain resistant.

Top Living Room Design Styles

Think about what secondary functions your space has to serve. Is your living room going to be just a living room, or will it be a living room and office? “More and more,” says interior designer Jamie Vautour, “we are combining rooms that used to be separate, such as a living room that doubles as a home office or a music room. If your home has limited space, designing the living room so that it can serve multiple functions is invaluable.”

Make a list of everything you want to do in the space, so that you can plan accordingly. If you need to put your computer and printer in the living room, you’ll require ample electrical outlets, and you might want an armoire in which to hide the electronics when it’s quitting time. If the living room will double as your children’s playroom, make sure your space planning includes toy storage and furniture that won’t be ruined if someone spills a juice box.

If you need the space to do double duty as a guest room, make sure you budget and plan not only for a pullout sofa, but also for a coffee table that’s easy to move away so that you can actually open up that sofa when guests come to spend the night.

Identify Your Living Room Style

Do you consider a sleek, modern living room sexy or do you think minimalism looks cold and forbidding?  Does an eclectic assemblage of treasures from around the world feel exotic and exciting to you or is it just jumbled mess?  There’s no right answer to these questions, but finding the answers (and the styles) that are right for you is one of the most important things you’ll do when planning your living room renovation.

Take some time to look around you – at your own home, at your friends’ homes, at the rooms’ design pros put together – and find the style that resonates.  Then you can put your own twists on the style to create a living room that reflects your personality and individuality.

Here’s how:

Look At Your Home

If you’re embarking on a renovation, you clearly want to change some things about your current space, but there are probably elements that you do like.  What are they?  Think about which room in the house is your favorite, and why:  Is it the bedroom, because you love its romantic floral wallpaper?  Do you love the kitchen you redid last year, because it’s sleek and industrial?  When you’ve identified the elements that make you feel most at home, you can incorporate them into your new living room.

Do Some Design Research

Gather an armload of decorating magazines, and rip out any pages that make you linger.  Then analyze:  What do the pictures you love have in common?  Is it a minimalist sensibility?  A Victorian vibe?  A riot color?  A monochromatic palette?

When you can identify the elements you are drawn to, be sure to make note of what unites them.  That consistent element is probably the key to your personal style.

Get Out of the House

“Open your eyes to the details around you,” says interior designer Jamie Vautour, owner of Maison D’OR Interiors.  Not just on the Internet and TV, but in real life.  Go to new restaurants.  Visit museums you’ve never been to.  Take a tour of a local historical mansion.  “All of these places have design elements that you might want to incorporate into your living room redesign,” Vautour notes.

Do you like the rococo room at your local historical preservation society?  You may not want to go quite as over-the-top with the gilding and carving as folks did 200 years ago, but maybe a touch of gold leaf on a lamp would appeal to you.  That shiny new eatery downtown may be too sleek to live in day after day, but perhaps the super-cool lighting fixture you noticed while waiting for your appetizers would look great in your house.

Eliminate the Negative

And pay attention to the restaurants you’ve walked past after peering in the window because you thought it looked uninviting, and the magazine pages you’ve flipped quickly while thumbing through those magazines because you just hated them.  What turns you off again and again?  Distressed-finish furniture?  Too much ornamentation?  Don’t let them clutter your thoughts.  You may not know what you like yet, but you certainly know what you don’t like.

Keep or Toss: 4 Questions to Help You Declutter Your Living Space

Do you want to get rid of everything you own and start from scratch? Or do you want to incorporate some favorite pieces from your current living room into your new one? Or, perhaps, you wish you could have a clean design slate, but have to retain as much as you can in the interest of your budget. Whatever the answer, here are some smart ways to triage your current living room belongings. Ask yourself the following questions.

Does It Work in the Space?

“I love considering existing pieces as a source in my shopping,” say interior designer Jamie Vautour.  “But I look at what someone has with the same critical eye as when looking for new items.”  She suggests looking at a piece, whether already owned or not, through the following criteria:  First, is it the right shape and size, and second, is it the right style?

“You have to be fairly tough and non-emotional in saying goodbye to pieces that really won’t work in your design,” Vautour says, “but if you feel you must use a piece for sentimental reasons, then at least be sure to consider it upfront so that your other selections make that piece feel more relevant rather than left over.

Is It Valuable?

If you can’t stand that $20,000 Biedermeier chest, you should have to live with it, and you can have a reputable antiques dealer resell it for you.  But if something is valuable and you like it well enough, this twice about swapping it out just for the sake of having something new.  “A practical way to decide whether to keep something based on value is to research it to the best of your ability – see what it would sell for on eBay or Craigslist,” says interior designer Jamie Vautour.  “If the value of the object or furniture is low, then get rid of it and upgrade.”

Do You Love It?

That chair that you fell in love with at a chic furniture store.  The rug you shipped back from your Moroccan vacation.  The throw pillow that always makes you smile.  If there’s something in your living room that you absolutely adore, hold on to it.  Incorporating things that are meaningful to you is what will make your new living room feel like home.


Can You Tweak It?

If you love the shape of your almost-new sofa but hate the color, consider having it reupholstered.  If the milk-paint finish on your rustic coffee table won’t work with your more sophisticated design plans, maybe you can have it sanded and refinished in a glossy cherry or mahogany.  “Older tables, chests or any case good can be brought back to life with new lamps, mirrors or a coat of paint,” says interior designer Jamie Vaultour.  “And upholstered pieces can easily be updated with a new fabric.”

Ultimately, these changes are worthwhile only if you love the shape of the piece, or if it’s in the otherwise-excellent condition.  If you were never that crazy about that coffee table, or if the springs on the couch are shot, it may be better (easier, snazzier and more economical) to shop for something new.

Budgeting Your Living Room Remodel

So, just how much is that living room renovation going to cost?  The answer to that question ranges from a few thousand dollars for a paint job and new flooring to a few hundred thousand dollars for major construction and magazine-worthy interior design.  But whether you are planning to give your space a minor facelift or a major overhaul, it’s important t know how much things are going to cost before the first demolition sledgehammer is swung.  Otherwise, you could run out of money midway through the project.

To start honing in on a realistic budget for the changes you have in mind, go back to the wish list you’ve created for your renovation and prioritize it into “musts,” “maybes” and “someday down the line.”  Then do some research about how much each element – or at least the “musts”- might cost.

Consult the Pros

To find realistic numbers for architecture, construction and design services, talk to a few professionals you might consider working with.  Share your ideas for the project and ask them how much their service for such a plan might run and how much you can expect to spend on materials and subcontractors’ work, as well.  Remember that after you’ve paid your designer to find the perfect fabric for your sofa, you’ll have to pay for the fabric as well as the upholsterer’s time and talent.  Talk to a few different pros so that you have a sense of how prices might vary.

Remember the Rugs

As for decoration, says interior designer Jamie Vautour, “Create a spreadsheet and prioritize the ‘must-have’ items, like the sofa that is an investment or the chandelier you’ve been coveting, and then work around that.  And be sure to put in a contingency line item in for those amazing finds or extras you for